Originally Published: July 25, 2018 9:36 p.m.
A Cottonwood man, who allegedly used the social media smartphone application Snapchat to find and sexually assault a Prescott-area teenager, has been arrested by the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO).
On Monday, July 23, YCSO detectives were notified by the parents of the 14-year-old girl that a person known to them had sexually assaulted their daughter in a Prescott area home.
Detectives conducted an extensive interview with the victim, who explained that earlier this year, Richard Edwards, 55, from Cottonwood, contacted her via Snapchat expressing sexual desire for her, YCSO said. Eventually, Edwards showed up unannounced at the victim’s front door. When she opened the door, he grabbed her and forced her into a bedroom, sexually assaulted her, and threatened to kill her if she talked, she told detectives. No other family members were home at the time.
In the weeks that followed, Edwards was able to continue allegedly molesting the victim at other locations by finding ways to be near her, detectives were told. The victim said she was so scared of Richard’s actions, she eventually told a trusted family member and the Sheriff’s Office was contacted.
The next day, July 24, detectives found Edwards at his Cottonwood home and placed him under arrest for charges including sexual assault, sexual conduct with a minor, sexual abuse, luring a minor for sexual exploitation and threatening. He remains jailed on a $500,000 cash bond.
Because Edwards allegedly used Snapchat’s location-sharing feature to initially find the girl, YCSO spokeperson Dwight D’Evelyn suggests parents monitor their children’s social media activity.
“This oversight by parents could be a lifesaving measure as seen in examples around the country where predators have created the opportunity to harm, injure and even kill their victims,” D’Evelyn said.
If anyone has further information on Edwards in context to this arrest, they are encouraged to call detective David Moya at 928-771-3278.